Creating a website

A website is important for conveying information, establishing your presence in the community, and giving yourself a mark of legitimacy (especially among younger people who won't believe in the organization's existence without one). You can use your website to display concert information, resources for musicians, musician sign-up forms, online donation links, etc. Your website will be a valuable tool for recruiting musicians and publicizing your first events.

Eventually, you'll probably want to appoint a webmaster. However, since starting a website is one of the first things you should do, you might have to figure out how to put something temporary together yourself in the beginning and then improve it later.

There are two main resources you need for starting a website: a domain name and a web hosting service. The domain name is the actual web address that someone would type in their browser to access your page, like A web hosting service is a company whose servers store your webpages and provide access to them for people who navigate to your site.

Purchasing a domain name is fairly easy and inexpensive (about $10/year, depending on the address you want). You can buy it from any one of many domain registrars, such as GoDaddy. But, before you purchase your domain name, make sure you know what you're going to do with it.

If you're planning to build the site from scratch yourself, you might want to get a full-fledged web hosting account. You can hook up your domain name to this account, set up subdomains, create e-mail lists and forwarders, and use lots of provided developer tools. Hosting accounts typically cost at least $100 per year, depending on the services you pay for. Of course, if you already have a web hosting account yourself, or if you have a co-founder with an account, you can save your orchestra money by using the existing account.

Another good option if you're technically competent and planning to build your own site from scratch is to use GitHub Pages. GitHub allows you to host static webpages for free and to use your own domain for them. In effect, it's free no-frills web hosting for simple websites, and it's very easy if you know how to use GitHub (common among software engineering types).

If you don't have web programming skills, there are many online services available to design your own website using templates and "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" editing. These services often give you a free subdomain on their site, such as You generally have to pay a fee if you want to use your own domain name, such as or These services also don't give you access to a lot of the other useful features you would get with a real web hosting account, but it might be a good place to start.

I think it is probably best for you to get your own domain name early on, before you start any serious publicity efforts. Changing your web address later will only lead to confusion, and it's good for your orchestra's contact info to remain stable over time.

When I started the RCO, I already had a web hosting account with A2Hosting that I was using for some other projects, so I simply purchased the domain name and hooked it up to my existing account. Since I didn't expect the orchestra's website to have lots of traffic or to require lots of storage space, it wouldn't impinge on any of my other sites. Later, the RCO got its own web hosting account with GoDaddy. This is good because all the web stuff remains accessible to someone else if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, though it does cost more money.